Printable Version
Pronunciation: im-pek-ê-bêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Faultless, flawless, perfect, in accord with the highest standards. 2. (Theological, rare) Sinless, blameless, unerring.

Notes: Today we have a word that was once a fraternal twin of impeccant. Once they broke up, though, impeccant continued meaning only "sinless", while its twin acquired a lay meaning "flawless". Don't forget to double the C when writing this word. It comes with an adverb, impeccably, and a noun, impeccability.

In Play: Anything that can be perfect can be impeccable: "Corey Publican displays impeccable decorum whenever he sees a camera." Roles are often played impeccably: "Lil Wormser-Goode played the role of black sheep in the family impeccably."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken wholesale from French impeccable "perfect", which was inherited from Late Latin impeccabilis "not liable to sin". This word comprises an assimilated form of in- "not, reverse of" + peccare "to sin, to err", based on peccatum "sin, fault, error". The Latin word also evolved into Spanish pecado "sin", from which Spanish created a diminutive pecadillo "a little sin", which English snatched, adding only an additional C for its peccadillo. Latin peccatum apparently goes back to a suffixed form of pet-/pot-/pt- "to fly; to fall", pet-ko-. Although, the PIE word overwhelmingly refers to flying, Sanskrit and Greek have words referring to falling, e.g. Greek ptosis "fall, falling", aeropetis "fallen from the sky", aptos "not falling". The original meaning of the PIE word could have been "fall", which later converted to "fly" via the shared sense "passing through air". (This suggestion comes from Rob Towart, who has impeccable credentials as a prolific contributor of impeccable Good Words like today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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